While he returned to form at the plate, his role in the field changed as he played just 74 games at catcher as he split catching duties with Ryan Doumit, getting 30 starts at first base and a career-high 42 starts at DH.Mauer also declined as a fielder behind the plate by most advanced defensive metrics as he threw out a career-low 14 percent of base stealers.Although not a prodigious home run hitter, he has a strong enough bat to still be a positive player at first base as his OPS would have ranked sixth among AL first baseman.
That theory got some credence when he hit .289/.397/.408 after the All-Star break.
More likely, Mauer just wasn't healthy during the first half of the season and later became more of his typical self at the plate with outstanding discipline and an ability to drive the ball to all areas of the field.
Before last season, Mauer and the Twins had been adamant about him remaining an everyday catcher, but both seemed to plan for a transition as he began to play first base in July and was there for 18 games in the second half.
With the Twins signing Ryan Doumit in the offseason, Mauer may only play catcher part time in 2012, splitting time at DH and first base, and he could move to another position permanently if his legs continue to be an issue.
2014 Mauer will move to first base in 2014 as the Twins decided it was better to keep him healthy and in the lineup after his second injury-plagued season in three years.
Mauer was having his typically productive season at the plate, but with a bit more power than usual (second best home run rate of his career) before suffering a concussion in late August.For fantasy purposes, he'll still qualify at catcher in almost all formats in 2014, and the elimination of his injury risk always his biggest concern should make him perhaps the top fantasy catcher.It's also possible that Mauer may still get behind the plate for a few games as the Twins have called his move to first base a transition and Mauer had resisted a move before the concussion.Although not a prodigious home run hitter, he has a strong enough bat to still be a positive player at first base, as his 2013 OPS would have ranked sixth that season among AL first baseman.He's a rebound candidate given his track record, but his continued injury woes and increased strikeouts make him far less appealing as a first baseman.He struck out a career-high 98 times, fueled by a career-high percentage of swings at pitches outside of the strike zone.